Significant increase in airfares results in switch to other transport modes

As there is a significant increase in domestic airfares, consumers are willing to switch from planes to other means of transport such as coaches, trains and boats.

The rail sector witness a growth

According to the National Tourism Administration, during the April 30 and May 1 holidays, most tourists chose tours by cars or a combination of trains, cars, and boats. This also reflects the trend of passenger transport activities with strong growth of roads and railways in the context of rising domestic air ticket prices.

The Vietnam Airports Corporation (ACV)’s data showed that during the national holidays of April 30 and May 1, its affiliated airports served nearly 1.8 million passengers, including 1.132 million local passengers. This number decreased by about 10 percent compared to the same period last year. Ho Chi Minh City-located Tan Son Nhat International Airport served an average of 108,805 passengers a day, down 7.62 percent compared to 2023 and 9.67 percent compared to 2019. Meanwhile, Hanoi-based Noi Bai International Airport handled an average of more than 80,000 passengers per day, down 18 percent over the same period last year.

The main reason for the substantial decrease in air passengers is too high ticket prices. According to the revelation of air ticket agents, flights from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to airports in the Central region on peak days cost from VND2 million a way or more. In particular, flights to Phu Quoc Island have very high ticket prices; for instance, flights from Hanoi to Phu Quoc have airfares up to VND8.6 million a round-trip ticket.

Ms. Hoang Dung, representative of SEA Travel Company, said that airfares have always been high from the Lunar New Year until now, including around February and March, which is the low season every year.

Director Dinh Viet Thang of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam pointed out the lack of aircraft is one of the main reasons for high air ticket prices. Vietnamese airlines have up to 44 A321 Neo aircraft that must be recalled to fix engine errors at the request of the manufacturer.

According to the plan, it will take until the end of 2026, or even the beginning of 2027, for Vietnamese airlines to have enough aircraft to return to normal operations. Mr. Thang predicted that the situation will be more strained during the upcoming summer.

However, high airline ticket prices create an opportunity for the railway sector to regain its market share. The Vietnam Railway Corporation disclosed that during the holiday period of April 30 and May 1, the railway quickly sold about 120,000 tickets. A representative of Hanoi Railway Transport Joint Stock Company said that from the Tet holiday (the Lunar New Year) until now, the company's train fleet has reached 90 percent-95 percent of their capacity.


During the upcoming summer peak, in addition to the Thong Nhat train running the North-South route, Hanoi Railway Transport Joint Stock Company will run additional trains from Hanoi to Lao Cai, Thanh Hoa, Vinh, Dong Hoi, Hai Phong. Saigon Railway Transport Joint Stock Company will run more trains to Nha Trang and Phan Thiet to serve tourists. It is forecast that more holidaymakers will travel by rail this summer.

Chairman Dang Sy Manh of HDTV Vietnam Railway Corporation said that the railway industry is taking advantage of the opportunity to regain market share by actively improving its service quality. Currently, all train carriages have been improved. The railway industry has also cooperated with travel agencies to charter the entire train for a short trip.

However, with the current outdated infrastructure, the railway industry has not been able to create a breakthrough in transport capacity, meaning that the market share has not improved significantly but slightly, 0.15 percent higher than 2023.

Meanwhile, according to the Ministry of Transport, in 2023 and early 2024, waterway passenger transport has increased by more than 6 percent. The rate has moved up by 10 percent compared to 2022. However, the growth of waterways and sea routes is still low compared to their potentials. Hence, transport pressure continues to be put on roads.

Travel companies predicted that this summer, combined road and rail tours will prevail because their prices are much more reasonable than air tours. Information from the Ministry of Transport also shows that, with low cost and better infrastructure, the road transport will witness substantial growth and it is highly likely to dominate the market with 91.79 percent market share.

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